Wednesday, 6 October 2021
Department of Health
167. To ask the Minister for Health if he will immediately put in place an external review of practices in all maternity hospitals and units to ensure that all guidelines and protocols regarding pregnancy loss and perinatal death are being adhered to. [48730/21]
The Government is committed to the progressive development of maternity services. In 2016, Ireland’s first National Maternity Strategy was published, as well as the HSE’s National Standards for Bereavement Care following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death. The National Maternity Strategy recognises the importance of improving and standardising bereavement care throughout our maternity services and recommends the implementation of the National Standards for Bereavement Care following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death. The Standards are designed to enhance bereavement care services for parents who experience a pregnancy loss or perinatal death and cover all pregnancy loss situations from early pregnancy loss to perinatal death.
There has been significant progress to implement the National Standards for Bereavement Care following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death. This includes the development of Specialist Bereavement Teams in all 19 maternity hospitals/units, each with a Clinical Midwife Specialist in Bereavement, and the majority of maternity units also now have a specific Bereavement Room. This ensures that families who have experienced a bereavement, get high standard, compassionate care in an appropriate setting, and a setting that affords them privacy and dignity at a very difficult and distressing time. There are also quiet rooms available in most units to facilitate parents spending time with their baby. The Department has been assured that all units continue to implement the Standards, and this is closely monitored by the Bereavement Standard Implementation Steering Group which reports to the National Women & Infants Health Programme.
168. To ask the Minister for Health if he will immediately put in place external review to ensure all human remains held at any stage by maternity hospitals and units have been buried in a dignified manner. [48731/21]
I have been advised by the HSE that all hospital groups have confirmed in writing that they are fully compliant with the HSE Standards and Recommended Practices for Post Mortem Examination Services 2012.
However, arising from recent concerns, the HSE has asked all hospital groups to conduct a full review of compliance against the National Standards with specific reference to issues relating to consent, storage and disposal to ensure consistent compliance at individual patient level. The hospital groups have been asked to report on the results of their reviews and associated actions to the National Director of Acute Operations. Arising from review of the results, the HSE Healthcare Audit Team may conduct further independent reviews at hospital or national level. I have received assurances from the HSE that this review process will be undertaken in a timely manner and that the outcome is relayed to my Department.